Innovative solutions

Innovative solutions to retool cities

By Giulia Ilacqua

The Manhattan Institute has released its latest study on the challenges facing American cities. The first, The Next Urban Renaissance, was released in 2015. Its new report, Retooling Metropolis, focuses on how social media, markets, and regulatory innovations can make cities more liveable. The four essays cover bi-directional data flows and collaboration between private firms and cities, the right price of street parking, the use of micro units, and improving the way cities contract services. Each of these offers interesting examples of ways cities are overcoming their challenges.

The exploration of parking, for instance, looks at a better way for cities to manage their on-street parking. In 2012, an International Parking Institute report found that roughly 30% of cars circulating in a city at any given time are looking for parking spots. A new approach that has been implemented in San Francisco’s new SFpark system could change that. Following SFpark’s switch to a metered rate based on parking demand within an area, the city saw a 50% decline in the number of cars circling for a spot, with drivers finding spots five minutes faster.

On the issue of affordable housing, the collection suggests more aggressive permitting of microunits, apartments that are smaller than conventional studios. Permitting microunits allows for more housing units to be created within the physical floor area that is currently allowed. More permissive zoning, including lifting bans on microunits, increasing the minimum-unit size, or altering density caps, will alleviate some of the housing-related issues in cities across the US.

These innovative solutions provide municipalities with the opportunity to confront critical issues facing their residents, visitors, and businesses, directly impacting the economic potential of cities.

This post first appeared in TINAN 75. Subscribe to TINAN for the latest economic development news and resources.